Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Walking the Labyrinth to Your Center

Synchronicity abounds in my life these days; I'm connecting in marvelous and mysterious ways. At a spring equinox labyrinth walk that I co-facilitated, I met a woman who shared a wonderful story about engaging with the labyrinth. As it turned out, she is a writer, so I offered her the opportunity to be Engaging Inner Wisdom's first guest writer, and to share her experience with you.

Before I introduce you to our guest writer though, let me offer some background information about labyrinths. As a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator I have supported hundreds of people in using the labyrinth as a method to engage their inner wisdom.

Chartres Style Labyrinth
Built by Myra Elaine Ryneheart
Labyrinths are ancient tools that help us hear and listen to the voice inside. Many people think they are mazes, but they aren't. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path - the same path in, leads to the center, and then leads out again - walking the labyrinth is about taking a journey to your center. Used in a variety of settings like schools, hospitals, churches, parks, prisons, veteran's administrations, spas, and homes, and for many purposes, including contemplation, meditation, problem solving, grief processing, and enhancing creativity, labyrinths provide deeply meaningful experiences. Labyrinths are found throughout the world, and come in a variety of designs; to find a labyrinth near you visit If you are in the Los Angeles area come walk with me on World Labyrinth Day, May 4th.

I asked today's guest writer, Luella Wagner, to share what engaging inner wisdom means to her and the insights labyrinth walking evoke:

"Inner wisdom is a “knowing” that comes from deep inside; most of the time it is the “still small voice”, but it can be a dream, a thought, or that gut-wrenching feeling telling you that something isn’t right.  Basically, it is a person’s intuition.  It is one of the most valuable tools that one has at their disposal, yet rarely used.  Like any worthwhile endeavor it takes time, effort, and patience to develop.  The first step to tapping into your inner wisdom is to sit in silence.  That’s it.  Sit in silence.  You might not get an answer right away, but if you keep on practicing sitting in silence, the answers will eventually come to you.  It’s that simple"
~Luella Wagner

What’s in a Labyrinth?  Only You Know the Answer.  
by Luella Wagner
I had walked the labyrinth for years.  I had read about them, studied them, researched them, and taught them, but there was something missing. There is a Native American adage that says, “If you want to understand something, stand under it.”  I couldn’t stand under a labyrinth, so I decided to stand on one, by walking it every day until I found the secrets hidden beneath it.  There was a labyrinth close by my house and if I missed a day walking it, I resorted to my finger labyrinth that someone had given me a long time ago.  I started my quest on December 21, the winter solstice.  I purposely did not Google.  I wanted to see what would come from within or what would come to me without any effort.

So many times we wish that we could just concentrate on the spiritual and not have to worry about “paying the bills.”  I just wanted to walk the labyrinth, pray, and meditate, but I had to substitute teach.  The funny thing is, it was there that I found hidden mysteries of the labyrinth.  While teaching a class in Ancient Greek civilization, I came across the double-sided ax, the same design that is part of the turns in the labyrinth.  I discovered that the double ax was a symbol used by Greek priestesses as part of their ceremonies.  I started to see the labyrinth as a source of divine feminine energy.   I quickly discovered that the same design also symbolized the butterfly. 

Butterfly Gift
I knew all the analogies of the butterfly:  new life, resurrection, transformation, and then I came across the “butterfly effect.”   The term was coined by Edward Lorenz while studying for his doctorate at MIT.  In essence he discovered that the motion of the butterfly’s wings could alter the course of a tornado.  I suddenly saw the importance of every little step I took, choosing to use paper instead of plastic, letting someone on the freeway go ahead of me, holding the door open for someone as I left the 7/11 store, or smiling at someone in the elevator. Even saving a penny would make not only a difference, but a huge difference.  All of a sudden I realized that my tiny actions could have a great impact.  

I continued to walk the labyrinth.  I walked in the sun, in the rain, at night and during the day.   My favorite time was nighttime.  It was quiet, soothing.  The day was over and I could reflect. Again, through my substitute teaching, secrets of the labyrinth were revealed to me.  I was in a kindergarten science class.  The students were coloring an outline of the brain.  As I looked at the brain, I was reminded of the labyrinth.  In the center of the brain was the pineal gland, which many believe is the spiritual eye, just like labyrinth’s center is also the point of illumination.  I learned that the symbol of the pineal gland was the pine cone.  As I was walking to school one day, (yes, I do have that luxury every once in awhile) I found myself walking through a park filled with pine trees.  I couldn’t resist.  I caved in and did a little research on the pine tree.  I discovered that the tree has both male and female pine cones.  The male pine cones release their pollen and the wind carries it upward to the female pine cones which open to receive the pollen.  The pollen germinates for a year and then the female pine cone falls to the ground and releases the seed.  This had great symbolism for the labyrinth.  Sitting in the inner circle, like the pine cone, we receive, and then as we leave the inner circle, we release what we have learned to others.  This is the illumination of the labyrinth.

I continue my journey into the labyrinth and I continue to find insights and I look forward to sharing them with you after the next solstice.  But don’t wait for me.  Your personal mysteries of the labyrinth are waiting to be discovered.  

Luella Wagner
Luella Wagner is a teacher, writer, and documentarian.  She is currently writing her memoir which spans twenty years of teaching, including stints in Brazil, Samoa, and most recently an Indian reservation in southeastern Montana.  She lives in Woodland Hills, California with her cat Moo Moo.     

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Engaging Inner Wisdom Using Runes

Welcome to April!  Over the next few months, Chantel and I are going to share with you many of the ways that we engage our inner wisdom.  We know that everyone engages their inner wisdom in different ways, so we hope that you will share your experiences and methods for engaging inner wisdom with us.  I am going to get the ball rolling with Runes.

Nearly two years ago, I launched my first blog, The Wonder of Runes, with not much more than a burning curiosity about these intriguing angular letters, each with their own meaning, and a basic understanding of those meanings.  I spent a few years getting to know them from an academic, historical, and mythological perspective, along with beginning to understand them as an oracle offering guidance to manage my life.

The Runes were immediately intuitive to me in a way that things like tarot cards never were.  I began by drawing a single Rune and trying to interpret its meaning.  That led to asking simple questions and now, not only do I do rituals with them, but I have made bind Runes and I am making my own set of Runes.  They have enriched and empowered me beyond words.

Today, I introduce them to you by asking them a simple question: How do I use the Runes to engage my inner wisdom?  Before I explain each of the three Runes that I drew and how they link to my question, I should explain that much of my inner wisdom revolves around my writing, both in the professional writing, editing, and communication services I offer and my own writing.  In addition, I use my writing in many of the workshops and retreats I lead.

With that in mind, here is what the Runes tell me about engaging my inner wisdom.

Fehu was the first Rune I drew to address this question.  It is the Rune of cattle.  In ancient times, cattle equaled wealth, making this not simply the money Rune, but a Rune of wealth in many forms.  The act of writing is wealth to me.  It fills me with a sense of completeness.  When I don't write, it's like a light in my life has been turned off.  Writing is not only my career, but my passion.  I've always wanted to be a writer.  Although I have used my writing professionally for decades, it wasn't until I published my novel last year that I felt like an authentic writer... an author, making money (another form of wealth) doing what I enjoy most.

Next, I drew Laguz, the water Rune.  Many people use the term "go with the flow" when they see this Rune.  In this situation, I see Laguz in a similar fashion.  Because my professional writing career is still in its fledgling stage, I don't get to do as much writing as I would like.  There are a lot of other aspects to this career path - marketing, advertising, networking, and, what I like to call administrivia - the tedious aspects of running your own company.  To address these aspects of my work I have to go with the flow, because they have to be done.  However, Laguz is far more than going with the flow for at least two reasons.  First, of the four primary elements (earth, water, air, fire) I am drawn to water, so this Rune resonates with me on a very visceral level.  Water is empowering and calming to me at the same time.  Second, this Rune also represents the mysteries associated with water, the secrets held in the depth of the ocean, the magic in the way water moves around and through things, the requirement of water for life.  These are ways I feel attached not only to my love of writing, but to Earth itself and the magic and mysteries it holds.

This brings us to Ansuz, the Rune of communication, the third and final Rune to answer this question.  While writing has been a part of my life for nearly all of it, communication in general has grown in prominence over the last decade.  Everything we do communicates something, whether it's through body language, verbal or written messages, art work or our career choice.  It's all a form of communication and I specialize as a communication coach, because, as a writer, I recognize the importance of clear communication in multiple forms.  This also happens to be a way that I help communication flow better (Laguz) and that I earn a living (Fehu).

These Runes represent the ways that I engage my inner wisdom to follow my passion and inner truth in my profession.  They also link to and compliment each other, while offering me guidance as I move forward in my second career.  What do you think the Runes would have to say about the way you engage your inner wisdom?

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom
If you are interested in learning more about the Runes or having a reading of your own, please contact me.  For those of you who decide to follow our blog, I will give you a complimentary reading, if you sign up by April 17th, which is when our next post goes up.

Here are a few more ways to learn about the Runes:
- Join my Runes and the Futhark community on google+
- Like my Runes and the Futhark page on facebook
- Follow my blog - The Wonder of Runes
- Follow me on Twitter - @KarenPaquin

If Runes aren't your thing, please leave a comment to share with us a method you use for engaging you inner wisdom.